Crazy Transit Pitches

jklo

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I love the effort and ideas in these posts.

But hot damn does this just highlight how absolutely stupid the rail layout is in Boston. Just look at all those roughly parallel lines... radiating into downtown as if it's the center of the universe. Way too East-West dependent. Good luck going north or south (let alone across the river) in any reasonable way.
Tunneling in the water is so expensive that it's too crazy for crazy.
 

Bananarama

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Tunneling in the water is so expensive that it's too crazy for crazy.
There are 5 subway tunnels crossing the East River in NYC. There is plenty of precedent.

I wasn't talking about tunneling though. A tie-in to the Grand Junction/BU bridge underpass above ground is much more feasible.
Not proposing my own urban ring route here. Just a reaction to that map.
 

HenryAlan

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All four of Boston's rail transit systems cross at least one body of water. Orange crosses the Charles and Mystic rivers; Red crosses the Charles and Neponset rivers; Green crosses the Charles river; Blue crosses the harbor. That's six water crossings, arguably five of them in a nort/south dimension. I'm not sure what you are looking for in terms of more.
 

George_Apley

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There are 5 subway tunnels crossing the East River in NYC. There is plenty of precedent.

I wasn't talking about tunneling though. A tie-in to the Grand Junction/BU bridge underpass above ground is much more feasible.
Not proposing my own urban ring route here. Just a reaction to that map.
There are a lot of good GLX-UR proposals for the Grand Junction that are *way* better than the hackneyed Commuter Rail official proposals.

As far as river crossings, as noted there are many, but there aren't any of the Charles River west of Charles Circle, which I think is what you're noting. A lot of that is because tunneling outside of the urban core wasn't on the radar in the early-20th Century due to the prevalence of streetcars. No Mass Ave subway, no subway between MIT and Back Bay, etc. At this point the ship has really sailed because of the challenges of tunneling through Boston's glacial till geography. Too risky to the architecture to do a lot of cut-cover in the landfill zones, and too risky/costly to bore through/beneath the upper layers of earth. New tunneling is easiest in places where cut-cover is practical or where there's relatively shallow bedrock to take advantage of with a TBM.
 

Bananarama

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All four of Boston's rail transit systems cross at least one body of water. Orange crosses the Charles and Mystic rivers; Red crosses the Charles and Neponset rivers; Green crosses the Charles river; Blue crosses the harbor. That's six water crossings, arguably five of them in a nort/south dimension. I'm not sure what you are looking for in terms of more.
Those are still all in effect of Hub+Spoke. The East-West focus was in regards to the zoom-in of the Brookline/Back Bay/South Boston area done by Riverside. Super inefficient routing going inbound then outbound in many instances.

Yeah, plenty of people here have found great GLX options to solve this. I understand the crazy logistical issues of tunneling here.
I think it's been discussed before (maybe?) but is an LRT line along Mass Ave prohibitive? Something about the proximity of existing intersections and backup.
 

JumboBuc

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Tunneling in the water is so expensive that it's too crazy for crazy.
Pardon my ignorance, but is this true? My understanding is that the Ted Williams Tunnel was one of the relatively least expensive, greatest bang-for-the-buck components of the Big Dig (Ari Ofsevit alludes to this in his pitch for a BL tunnel extension parallel to the Longfellow from Charles/MGH to the Volpe site at Kendall). Sure, tunneling under water isn't cheap, but neither is tunneling under a centuries-old city. How does the cost of sinking pre-built tubes in a trench in the (polluted but otherwise free of obstructions) Charles River differ from using a TBM or even doing cut-and-cover across densely developed urban land with centuries-old mystery utilities underneath?
There are a lot of good GLX-UR proposals for the Grand Junction that are *way* better than the hackneyed Commuter Rail official proposals.
Yeah, running the GL across the Grand Junction using the existing rail bridge under the BU bridge is a very doable project (see F-Line's post here for some great sketches). You could connect Lechemere + East Cambridge + Kendall + MIT + Cambridgeport to BU + Allston/Brighton + future West Station using mostly existing infrastructure.

Another real possibility for a river crossing is connecting the Cambridge and Boston sides of Harvard's campus (again, F-Line's post here has some great sketches) through a tunnel parallel to the Anderson Memorial Bridge around Harvard Stadium. This could also use some of the existing but currently-unused RL tunnel from before the 1980s Alewife extension to connect to the exiting Harvard Station on the Cambridge side. That'd give Cambridge Red Line riders (plus suburban commuters from Alewife) a much more direct connection to Allston/Brighton, the Fenway, and even parts of the Back Bay without having to go through the mess at Park St.
 

Riverside

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Would a Green Line branch to Allston make more sense? Just continue onto Brighton Ave from Commonwealth B line. A separate Blue extension that way seems redundant.
Blue running down Brookline Ave would be nice to give actual Fenway the Fenway stop (it's currently weirdly out of the way and not central to all the density being built down Brookline and Boylston).

Is there a reason for doubling up lines on top of each other other than expediency of the below grade one? Or are you suggesting just replacing the Green E entirely with Blue subway?
Replying here. "Blue-to-Allston" isn't so much about bringing the Blue Line to Allston specifically but for opening it up to continue on to places like Harvard, Newton Corner, Watertown, Waltham, and Riverside. Green Line branch(es) itself are almost certainly the better play for service to Allston itself, but if you wanted to go farther than Newtown Corner, I think it becomes less appealing, which is why it would be a question of whether Blue is better (especially if Blue runs largely express through Allston via a Mass Pike alignment). Hardly a sure thing, but that's why it's typically separated from the more modest Blue-to-Kenmore extension, especially since...

...Blue extensions to the south of Kenmore are also a mixed bag. Believe me, you don't need to sell me on the raw benefits of a subway down Brookline Ave -- the tragedy of transit access to LMA is a repeated saga of "close but not quite there". But I can't even see a subway being built there, if for no other reason than you have a perfectly good ROW just to the west. Yeah, the walking catchments overlap poorly because of the park in between, but I can't imagine the benefits outweighing the costs.

I think it'd be a better choice to put bus lanes and related infrastructure down Brookline Ave and Longwood Ave and do our best to make that be BRT-esque.

Blue to Brookline Village via the existing LRT ROW isn't a bad idea, but it has its own problems, chief among them being that you can't go any further out on the Highland Branch: any future extension to Needham is going to involve several grade crossings in Downtown Needham, and those will require LRT rather than HRT. If you run Blue past Brookline Village, you either block or hamstring severely an extension to Needham (which is badly needed in order to free up space on the Northeast Corridor).

I don't think I was clear earlier -- definitely not proposing replacing the Green E with the Blue Subway. Rather, I'm proposing that Surface Green E be replaced with an extended Subway Green E + D: extend the Huntington Subway down to Riverway, and then connect it to the D Line at Brookline Village, and extend the E to Needham.

In general, I agree, it's better to avoid doubling up lines. However, it's worth saying that the Green Line makes for a theoretical exception to that rule in some cases, because a surface level Green Line could act as a "local" service while a subway underneath could run as "express." The Green Line is always a little bit of an exception to every rule because it can exist on a sliding scale where you have HRT-style rapid transit on one end and local bus on the other.

Case in point -- if the Blue did get extended to Allston, I would imagine that it doesn't replace any particular Green Line branch, but rather operates as an express bypass.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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BLX-Allston would get anywhere it goes by banging a right from Brookline Ave. under the B&A. Including if it swallowed the D...it would take the B&A jog to insert without severing the C tunnel. So kind of by necessity it's a separate deal from GL. You're avoiding Beacon Jct. to save the C so any intermediate stops @ Landsdowne CR would be BLX-only; Beacon St. Eversource substation blocks a C/D interface. Next crossing is BU Bridge Jct. where the B St. Paul portal tunnel is actively inclining under the Pike (and BLX is slipping under that)...no opportunity for a transfer station.

So West would be the first common station opportunity after Kenmore...and there you're trapping Kendall-routed UR patterns for a different audience mix. Ring thru-routes from Kendall to Harvard are part/parcel the value proposition of the UR filets, so you aren't mode-changing the rest of the Harvard Branch to HRT. You're rather continuing somewhere west from West along the B&A to cover a different swath of Allston. And by that point you're on totally different/unique corridor from the B, A/57, and Harvard Branch.

So it reasons to assume that any west-of-Kenmore TBD's are in addition to Green/LRT, not swallowing any. Which should not be surprising, as the 1945 BTC expansion plan traced out HRT to Riverside via Newton Corner as wholly additional to the as-planned LRT D Line. Obviously now with Pike eating ex-B&A Tks. 3 & 4 it's now a subwaying prospect instead of surface grade separated, but same (or similar w/ different outer terminus) build is straightforwardly feasible today given appropriate resources and ROI.
 

nick

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BLX-Allston would get anywhere it goes by banging a right from Brookline Ave. under the B&A. Including if it swallowed the D...it would take the B&A jog to insert without severing the C tunnel. So kind of by necessity it's a separate deal from GL. You're avoiding Beacon Jct. to save the C so any intermediate stops @ Landsdowne CR would be BLX-only; Beacon St. Eversource substation blocks a C/D interface. Next crossing is BU Bridge Jct. where the B St. Paul portal tunnel is actively inclining under the Pike (and BLX is slipping under that)...no opportunity for a transfer station.

So West would be the first common station opportunity after Kenmore...and there you're trapping Kendall-routed UR patterns for a different audience mix. Ring thru-routes from Kendall to Harvard are part/parcel the value proposition of the UR filets, so you aren't mode-changing the rest of the Harvard Branch to HRT. You're rather continuing somewhere west from West along the B&A to cover a different swath of Allston. And by that point you're on totally different/unique corridor from the B, A/57, and Harvard Branch.

So it reasons to assume that any west-of-Kenmore TBD's are in addition to Green/LRT, not swallowing any. Which should not be surprising, as the 1945 BTC expansion plan traced out HRT to Riverside via Newton Corner as wholly additional to the as-planned LRT D Line. Obviously now with Pike eating ex-B&A Tks. 3 & 4 it's now a subwaying prospect instead of surface grade separated, but same (or similar w/ different outer terminus) build is straightforwardly feasible today given appropriate resources and ROI.
Would it ever make sense to branch the Blue Line after Kenmore? Branch 1 some Allston-to-who-knows-where trajectory, as you describe, and Branch 2 continuing down Brookline Ave to terminate at Brookline Village, retiring D along the Muddy River and pushing D/Needham to a Huntington subway? I recall previously you made it clear that branching any HRT line must occur after the line's major bus terminal. While not on the same scale as Malden or Forest Hills, Kenmore seems to be that bus terminal for an extended BL (or maybe it would be West Station in the future?). I feel that LMA is too important regionally, has too many jobs, and serves a population (i.e. patients) where the current walkshed to D is too much. I know the MBTA just finished its flood protection project at the D portal, but taking rapid transit out of that corridor and retiring that portal seems like a win for resiliency.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Yes...if Kenmore is the last trunk transfer well of heft branching would be acceptable.

What you'd then have to study is that both Branch 1 and Branch 2 agree with each other on that being the last gravity well that swings trunkline heft. If Branch 1 runs to Newton Corner then turns under Galen St. to Watertown, however, the West region-largest bus hub of Corner+H2O might not agree with frequency halving. That's just one example where too-early branching could *potentially* backfire, so make sure your 'vision thing' is clear about where both branches are going and what that accomplishes before biting the bullet.
 

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